This series, "the longest-running cooking program on radio," began November 7, 1933 on CBS and concluded October 9, 1954 on NBC. The CBS episodes were initially fifteen minutes long and devoted to cooking tips and recipes.
Before the show switched to NBC in 1948, it had expanded to thirty minutes, and there it became part of the "NBC Saturday morning parade of stars".
The new version, introduced informally by the announcer as "Mary Lee on NBC," was an unusual but effective generic hybrid. Each episode begins with "The Story of the Week", a light domestic drama about fifteen minutes in length featuring young married couple Jim and Sally Carter. These segments have much in common with the many radio sitcoms of the day. In one show, we find Jim seized by jealousy because an old friend of his is flirting outrageously with Sally right before his eyes. The very next week Sally has to deal with the fact that one of the neighbors, a "cute redhead", is helping Jim out in his business a little too often and far too enthusiastically to suit her.
After the story in each episode comes "The Recipe of the Week". Economy is emphasized here, but we are also reminded of the time when no dinner was considered complete without bread and dessert. The Father's Day meal presented June 18, 1949 for example consists of braised round steak, fried potatoes and green beans, vegetable slaw, rolls and butter, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce, and coffee with milk and sugar. Using the sponsor's inexpensive Pet Milk product in preparing most of the dishes helped hold the cost to $2.06 for a meal serving four people.
The NBC shows conclude with "Today's Recipe for Happiness," in which Mary Lee delivers a warm serving of homespun wisdom. An example: "What more can you ask of life than a glad new day each morning, with work to do and loved ones to smile at across the breakfast table?" Indeed!
Mary Lee was in fact a nutritionist and an accomplished chef. Pet Milk ("the first evaporated milk") sponsored the program throughout its run.
From the Old Time Radio Researcher's Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
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Note that in many cases, file names have been modified from the original OTRR names to conform to archive.org naming requirements.
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October 20, 2012 Subject:
"Life in the New Apartment" (48-11-19)
IS ACTUALLY "Three's a Crowd" 49-02-26.
The Date for "Sally Finds Apartment" (48-11-11)
IS ACTUALLY 48-11-13.*
The Date for "Jim's Surprise" (48-11-26)
IS ACTUALLY 48-11-25.*
The Date for "Old Friend Charlie" (48-12-03)
IS ACTUALLY 48-12-04.*
The Date for "Redecorating" (48-12-10)
IS ACTUALLY 48-12-11.*
The Date for "Home for Christmas" (48-11-17)
IS ACTUALLY 48-11-18.*
* Per the NY Times Radiologs.
July 14, 2010 Subject:
I LOVE this program! I've listen to all the episodes and most more than once! My husband thinks that some of the recipes sound good (although I have yet to make them) and I've found many of the cookbooks via flea markets, ebay, etc. Please make more of the shows available! They harken back to a much more innocent time, when people trusted each other, and cared about those less fortunate. When neighbors were truly neighbors.
June 6, 2010 Subject:
I chose to listen to this one because of the promise of a cooking show, fully expecting to find the 15-minute stories contrived and made just to stretch out the show. However, I ended up liking the day-to-day doings of Jim and Sally more than the recipe segments! In fact from what I heard and have read, most of MLT's recipes sound simply vile (though to give her her due, she was offering up food for people with little money for ingredients and of course every recipe had to include PET milk :P...)